In John 5 Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath, the day of rest. Verse 16 tells us that “because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him.”
Observing the day of rest has long been important to God’s people. Even today “there are special ‘religious police’ with neon vests who walk around the Western Wall Plaza [in Jerusalem] and tell tourists not to take photographs once the Sabbath has begun…”*
However, in modern North America (where I live), breaking God’s command to rest can seem—if we’re not careful—like small potatoes.
Today’s cavalier attitude is probably because we (a) tend to downplay the role and commands of God in our lives, (b) think we know better than God, and (c) classify ‘busyness’ as a virtue and then elevate it above all others. Resting is for people who are lazy, weak or unimportant, right? We would never admit that, of course, but many think it.
Perhaps with the exception of covetousness, the command to rest is probably the one we break the most.
It’s true that people can get legalistic about doing anything at all on the day of rest. But just because we can do some things that doesn’t mean we should do anything.
God commands rest not because he wants bad things for us, but good! I’ve never heard someone say, ‘I feel horrible because I’m too well rested,’ or ‘I’m always at my worst when I’m feeling refreshed and renewed.’
Pause. Dwell in God. Listen to the birds. Enjoy a walk. Be un-productive for a while.
If you’ve become enmeshed and tangled in the culture of busyness you may need to re-learn how to rest. Just as a baby needs to learn how to walk, adults in North American need to learn how to rest.
Do you want more of God’s healing and peace in your life? What if that gift was closer than you think? There are times when your next best step isn’t about doing more, but less.
–The Up Devotional is published 5 days a week (Monday-Friday) and returns on May 16, 2022.
–*Robert J. Hutchinson, Searching for Jesus (Nelson: Nashville, 2015), 3.